Orecchiette with Sausage, Rapini & Ricotta Salata

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Orecchiette with Sausage, Rapini and Ricotta Salata
  • 4Servings


  • Salt
  • 1 large bunch rapini (broccoli rabe)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage with fennel, casings removed
  • 1 red finger chile or Fresno chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped or thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • Freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (2 fat squirts from a tube)
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 3/4-pound piece ricotta salata, grated, for serving


In a large pot, bring several inches of water to a boil for cooking the bitterness out of the rapini. Bring a larger pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the boiling water for the rapini, add the rapini and cook 2 to 3 minutes; using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water. Let cool briefly; drain. Chop into bite-size pieces.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil, two turns of the pan, over medium-high. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chile and garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rapini, the thyme and nutmeg to taste; stir until heated through, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the vermouth and cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add the stock and reduce the heat to low.

Meanwhile, salt the boiling water for the pasta. Add the pasta; cook to al dente.

Drain the pasta, add it to the skillet and toss to coat. Divide the pasta among bowls and top with the ricotta salata.